Does Europe need its own Internet?
Friday, January 20, 2012 9:20:40 PM
The US Justice Department now shut down Megaupload, a cloud-based file-archive service and indicted en passant several persons for allowing assumed "illegal files" to be distributed. As a response the 'Anonymous' hackers shortly closed down several official US websites, amongst which the Justice Department. The actions do raise several questions. The most important one: how safe are our data stored on the Internet, f.ex. at DropBox and similar services? It is suddenly becoming clear, that the protection of the integrity of the global internet, privacy and freedom of communication can be compromised by unilateral politico-economic decisions from one player. Legitimate e-commerce is threatened by it. What could be the consequences?
url movie: http://youtu.be/SfWENx39JkU
"The world has to adapt to our standards and laws" is often told by members the US elite.
I don't think so at all. Instead I do believe that the rest of the world should take some more distance from the USA and perhaps even help it, in turn for all its historic assistance, to redefine its rather confused mindset. The USA are bankrupt beyond repair, it currently fails political leadership, some mentally unstable persons run for the presidency (only a fool would claim that modern Turkey, partner of Nato, is governed by 'terrorists'? That based on gossips from FoxNews?❶), whereas the list of political scandals is long. Commercial interests of some crisis-troubled factions hide behind a legislation that caused influential European politicians to write an urgent message to their US counterparts that "something could dearly go wrong here". Apparently some in the States still believe that this planet is or has to be owned by the USA. Nevertheless this once glorious nation succeeded in losing its moral standing and economic position in the world already some 10 years ago, starting from the unprecedented '9.11'-hoax, an impressive enormity and scandal, consequently followed by wars with worldwide socio-economic and psychological ramifications that still linger on, splitting societies. The beginning of the end of a formerly prosperous western culture that we so clearly see taking place these days. Haven't we learned from our old-fashioned bigotry with fantastic kowtow, accompanied by sequentially in thin-air or wars dissolving political 'solutions'? The forthcoming weeks will reveal some surprising truths for all of us, I bet.
However, now freedom of communications is put on the line by a few still inveterate US industries, the border of acceptance seems to be trespassed. Protests are massive and for a part unconventional. Then the politically promoted 'consumer cult' of America is not a culture suited for most of the world. Apart from a belief-based, possessive cult, ravaging the planet no matter the consequences for others, it also is/was an utterly materialistic and greedy cult. A characteristic of the US society, reflecting in a.o. the SOPA and PIPA legislations. Its judicial system is for foreigners often bizarre: 'three strikes and you're out', jury verdicts and death penalty. The latter making it doubtful that the USA, following its claims in foreign affairs, belongs to the civilized world. From this context alone American laws shouldn't or often even can't apply in different, from it independent civilized nations, unless the USA either hold foreign populations hostage or pretends to be their occupying power. Doubtful twilight-zone being the still existing Nato-alliance.
Nevertheless we ought to seek commonalities. US lawmakers could adopt foreign legislative principles just as well! To my knowledge they refuse to do so. Referring to the current Internet war: also elsewhere in the world is theft prohibited, yet still occurring. When we add to theft the phrase 'of intellectual property rights' we immediately enter the twilight-zone of absolutely irrational opinions and public confusion. It belongs to the legal jargon of lawyers. What is the case?
Robbing artists from their income (!) by globally (!) proliferating their work (f.ex. via YouTube), even without the intention to damage them, is a classic example that -to my opinion- needs (a) better, educative and honest information (what f.ex. YouTube indeed gives), (b) actions to protect others from -bona fide- acquiring that material (which YouTube also correctly does). A different example is this. Buying assumed copycat (US) medicines for a cheaper price abroad could be a deadly mistake. It happens still! But it seems to me rather irrational to compare that with artist's copyrights! Since when are patents or brands subject to copyright laws? These aren't the same issues. Irresponsible behavior needs not be unlawful, no matter that a local drugstore earns a few bucks less. I understand that the two disputed US laws (SOPA, PIPA) go very much further than protecting consumers in both respects. Comparing medicines with music or movies is to me comparing apples with pears. Media however mention artists, musicians and medicines under the same token. Why not include f.ex. all objects having 4 wheels on behalf of struggling General Motors or Santa Claus on behalf of WalMart too in the context of these laws? Swiss 'Milka' and others (sic) succeeded in patenting a purple color for their chocolate bars, British Petroleum its green for BP petrol stations. Though the latter seems a different matter, it has a certain resemblance with copyright issues. The work of Michaelangelo (ca. 1508) for instance is copyrighted for a good reason. The problem today is that the wording of the disputed Internet laws is downright repressive, not restricted to the USA, though restrictive (limited to the class of products involved!), not informative (to educate the public), a priori causing high costs for Internet providers (by consequence the end-user), damaging legal e-commerce and taking existing national privacy-laws and national security issues of independent nations bluntly for granted! Bad legislation contributing to a lot of unnecessary turmoil.
This now raises the question if Cloud Computing is -under these circumstances- still acceptable? Having stored your private and business (!) software, data, music, movies, documents on the Internet in good faith of owning it privately, now becomes doubtful and might be shut off from the Internet by two bull-headed, reckless US laws that -as said- should apply, according to US legislators, f.ex. in my country: Spain. This is a highly interesting example, then Spanish legislature rejected Hollywood-backed copyright laws recently! An outdated movie distribution system could paralyze the world-wide web? US diplomats are promoting that? The impertinence of US diplomats in Madrid to press (and bribe?) Spanish politicians to vote in favor of changing the law on copyrights towards their 'Hollywood'-model is disturbing! The new conservative right-wing Spanish government gets to deal with this issue again later this year. By nature it unfortunately seems more sensitive for American 'incentives'...
Shouldn't we opt for a Pan-European Internet, as an alternative for the gradually Google dominated, US commerce and propaganda swamped global communication system? The infra-structure in Europa appears to allow that. Reaching the world with each click via (future) US censorship, having to wait for seldom interesting, for me useless advertisements, seems to me unacceptable.
An "EU-Net" could be a feasible and useful alternative. It should look at the world the way the US-censored Internet does now, meaning: European affairs first, with useful commerce for Europeans, a privacy-protected EU-Cloud where users can safely store their data, accompanied by education and incentives for trusted user-actions against the last 4-5% of those who only want to get everything for free, no matter damaging the interests of others. I would leave it to the users to assist in finding the few culprits, as taking out Megaupload proves. Their numbers are low. Privacy is best protected by those where it belongs: the users. I can't be sure of my privacy when providers are pressed to scan my account for assumed illegal content! Not that I have any to my knowledge. What stubborn American legislators could achieve here is contrary to any national interest: again less respect for the USA, but as well for local, domestic authorities lending their ears. That is, I believe, one of the reasons for several prominent European politicians to send a message to America. It could cause more public discontent than already exists, contributing to the current, still soft revolution. Implanting disgust and aversion in the mindset of people for their government is bad for the transition towards a modern democracy with individual responsibilities and sufficient freedoms. A dystopian society due to US-made series of crises is the least the world is waiting for right now! We already are way too far moving in that direction...
PS. It appears that the American Congress "in light of recent events" will put SOPA and PIPA for the time being on ice. That is the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act. Bear in mind more controversial copyright laws that still linger on!